Larry Henares’ essays are often thought of as a morality play, with its own consistent set of villains and heroes. His villains are “crooks, clowns, morons and traitors” among the Philippine officialdom, and his greatest peeves are the colons and the colonials, American carpetbaggers and scallawags among his own people, “the hired hacks and paid pipers of foreign imperialism.” His heroes are Rizal, Recto and all Filipinos whose loyalty and allegiance belong their own country rather than to a foreign power.
In this book of essays, “Villains and Heroes,” Larry really goes to town against “Mommie Dearest” Mother America (recalling the vitriolic biography of actress Joan Crawford by her daughter); against alleged CIA station chief Norbert Garrett, against Minister Phil Kaplan in a satiric essay that recalls the once famous story by Leo Rossten, recently deceased; Secretary George Shultz whom he called Fatso; and Ambassador Frank Wisner whom he called Frankenstein the Wisner of Oz. Here he recounts the long story of how the Senate of the Philippines finally rejected a one-sided Military Bases treaty with the United States.
Then again, he writes of other things: a hilarious essay on the bathrooms and toilets of the world; on mediocrity and intellectual cretinsm, on the social conscience of economists. And finally on death, a heroic fight against cancer, on Atang de la Rama, the final exit of the greatest of his contemporary heroes: Pepe Diokno and Lorenzo Tañada.
Read and laugh your head off. Read ,weep and gnash your teeth.